When the curtain closes, and the stage goes dark Saturday night following the final performance of “Leaving Iowa” at Salina South High School it will also symbolically close out the career of long-time theatre director and teacher Kate Lindsay. Miss Lindsay told her students last week that she’s planning to retire at the end of this school year, and this will be her final show.
Kate Lindsay has been a high school drama teacher for the past 38 years, with 35 of them at Salina South. While attending the former Marymount College, she student-taught at South under then-instructor Linda Webb. After graduating from Marymount she spent three years teaching in Norton before coming back home to South, where she has been a mainstay for over three decades.
Lindsay, who has been eligible for retirement for several years, tells KSAL News she came to the conclusion now is the right time.
Lindsay attributes her longevity to simply loving what she does.
Lindsay says she was inspired in college by Tyrees Allen, a fellow Marymount graduate who has made a career as a Hollywood actor. Though she did not attend college with Allen, he did return several times for various events while she was there. She also is inspired by a Marymount classmate who she did attend class with, Oscar winner Kevin Wilmott.
Lindsay is also very proud of the success of many former students, whether it is in the arts or not.
Nathan Tysen is a Grammy and Tony nominated songwriter whose musicals have appeared on Broadway. Emily Afton (Thompson) is currently on Broadway, in the cast of “Hadestown”.
Multiple other students have succeeded as teachers, in arts-related production and management, and in multiple non-arts related career fields. She has former students in Kansas City, Chicago, New York, and other cities who stay in contact.
Lindsay has been involved in well over a hundred shows at South over the past 35 years. One of the more memorable shows was the musical “Phantom of the Opera”, which is a large and complicated production. The week of the show a blizzard impacted the area, and school was cancelled for several days causing the cast and crew to miss dress rehearsals and technical rehearsals. Despite that, the show still opened as scheduled.
Lindsay says during one musical the curtain stopped working, ironically in a show called “Curtain”. During a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” a rotating platform came off its axis ands wouldn’t move. In each instance the students were able to adapt and overcome and the show went on. “That’s what you learn to do in theatre,” she said.
Lindsay, who is in the Kansas Thespians Hall of Fame, has built the theatre program at Salina South into one of the most respected in the state. She attributes her success, and the success of the program, to her students. And they couldn’t do it without her guidance, and the support of the community.
Lindsay says especially vital to the theatre program is the theatre booster club, which is comprised of current and past parents and students. The boosters support the program by doing things like assisting in building sets, creating costumes, and raising funds.
Lindsay plans to stick around the Salina area after retiring at the end of the school year, though she’s not sure what she’s going to do. She will have time to travel, and maybe catch some of her former students performing, whether it be on Broadway or other venues across the country. She is also active with the Theatre Salina organization, and probably will remain so.
It comes as no surprise that Lindsay says she “doesn’t want these final shows to be about me”. Instead, she wants the focus to be on the kids, who she says have been working very hard.
Lindsay’s final shows at South are this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. The drama department presents “Leaving Iowa”.
“Leaving Iowa” is a critically acclaimed play. It is a funny, family-friendly comedy that is a little roast of the family road trip. It has a very poignant ending, which is only fitting as it will also mark the end of Lindsay’s long career.
“Leaving Iowa” will be presented in the South High Theatre Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at 7:00. Tickets will be available at the door.